Pubdate: Thu, 19 Nov 2015
Source: North Coast Journal (Arcata, CA)
Column: The Week in Weed
Copyright: 2015 North Coast Journal
Author: Grant Scott-Goforth


The Humboldt County Planning Commission has been in the throes of a 
series of meetings over the last few weeks to address a proposed 
outdoor medical marijuana cultivation ordinance.

In the course of five meetings in the last two weeks, commissioners 
have heard hours of public comment and talked in depth with county 
counsel and planning staff in the commission's mission to come up 
with recommendations for the ordinance. County supervisors have asked 
for recommendations by the commission's Dec. 3 meeting with the hope 
that supervisors can approve rules by March 1, the deadline to have 
local ordinances on the books or cede the permitting process to the state.

Public comment has largely swayed between marijuana growers, who say 
the ordinance draft is too restrictive for larger grows and will 
prevent people from coming into compliance, and environmentalists, 
who say the restrictions are appropriate and have suggested a limit 
on the total number of marijuana cultivation permits issued by the county.

At an earlier meeting, senior planner Steve Lazar identified a number 
of "policy concepts" - essentially pointing out ideas and areas of 
concern raised by commissioners and the public. Among those are:

Offering a provisional license that would give existing farms time to 
come into compliance with county codes while continuing to operate.

Tribal consultation on permitting sites and compliance.

Revisiting the county's Phase 2 ordinance, which allows small grows 
on parcels under five acres.

Recognizing nurseries, where plants aren't grown to maturity, as separate uses.

Identifying a "Humboldt heritage" type of permit, which would give an 
edge to farmers who live at their cultivation sites and follow best 
environmental practices.

Some kind of incentive to have farmers move their cultivation sites 
out of the hills to more suitable parcels for agriculture.

Caps on the total number of permits issued.

Discouraging indoor growing on ag-zoned parcels.

The discussions continue, with two more scheduled meetings, Wednesday 
Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. and Thursday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. Lazar says more 
meetings are likely to be scheduled as December approaches.

Sentiments toward marijuana may be shifting south of the border - a 
modest decision by the Mexican Supreme Court may pave the way for 
legalization of cannabis in the nation in the next few years.

Mexico, with the U.S., has waged an escalating War on Drugs in the 
last decade and that has set the stage for large criminal enterprises 
to manufacture, ship and sell marijuana and other drugs. As the 
border country to the U.S. - with its discretionary income and 
seemingly insatiable appetite for recreational drugs - Mexico's War 
on Drugs has helped create violent battlegrounds over turf and shipping routes.

In early November, the court's criminal chamber "declared that 
individuals should have the right to grow and distribute marijuana 
for their personal use," according to the New York Times. This 
doesn't overturn any existing laws, but some say the move represents 
acknowledgement that the War on Drugs is failing and that marijuana 
legalization could be ahead.

While this is likely a good move, it's been reported that cartels 
have diversified away from importing marijuana into the U.S. as 
domestic laws are loosening. That means if the U.S. and Mexico want 
any real relief from the War on Drugs, both nations need to examine 
how they police all drugs.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom